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Yoga Straight Talk with Petra Gimbad

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

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Hi lovely.

Registration is open for what will be the last round EVER of 90 Days of Yoga — and I want the course to go out with a bang. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by hearing directly from some of my inspiring 90 Days of Yoga alumni. I’m calling this mini-series Yoga Straight Talk. These alumnae have the kind of advice that is tried and true — straight from their hearts and their mats. Enjoy!






Yoga Straight Talk with Petra Gimbad

Petra GimbadMeet Petra.

Petra is a lecturer, writer and volunteer with homeless communities. Prior to her current job, she worked with various human rights organisations and as a yoga teacher.

She writes for and can be found on Twitter under @petragimbad.


Let’s start with this — finish this phrase: my home yoga practice is.

My home yoga practice is whatever it is that I can make time for that day. Sometimes it’s a ‘full’ practice with meditation, joint exercises, Sun Salutes and other yoga poses – usually routines out of Yoga Journal. Most of the time, it’s a matter of doing any one or combination of these things, depending on what is needed to prepare for the day. (I practice in the morning.)

So, why did you decide to get on the mat in the first place?

Because of my mother. I saw her practice yoga from library books – we had moved to a place where classes were unavailable – so I picked up yoga from the very same books as a teen.

Give us a snapshot moment of how your home yoga practice served you well.

I was stressed, emotionally wrung from work and my personal life and I could not run due to weird work hours – my mornings and evenings were spent working or sleeping. Doing a solid 1.5 hours of yoga daily, before heading into work, helped me regain the positivity that I needed to empathise with my clients for the day. I was a social worker then.

What’s something that gets in the way of getting on your mat and how do you move through it?

The notion of perfection. I still get stuck thinking that a ‘real’ practice must include meditation, joint exercises (I find that they help me avoid aches and pains from weight bearing poses), Sun Salutes, certain poses (active, passive, standing, restorative, inversions). Now I try to simply begin with meditation, for as long as I can or I need. At the moment, it’s easiest letting go of the notion of perfection with meditation – all I have to do is turn up, sit and breathe.

Any words of wisdom for fellow home yogis struggling to sustain their practice?

Start with what you love. If meditation is your favourite part, do just that. If you want a simple flow sequence, you can do Sun Salutes over and over again – a friend’s cat stretches with her when she does! You could also pick three of your favourite poses and do only those, in-between a sitting meditation at the start for 2 minutes, and a lying down meditation at the end for anything between 2 to 10 minutes.

The main thing is to allow the practice of non-judgment to sit at the core of the practice – what matters is allowing yourself space to breathe, and not the form that the practice takes. That will take care of itself.

You could also incorporate wishing people well, smiling and deep breathing into work or movement – I find that blessing people who come to mind while breathing deeply as I cook or walk, incredibly meditative.

And now, for the really important details.

A personality that influences you:

Mother Teresa

A book you think everyone should read:

Something Beautiful for God‘, by Malcolm Muggeridge

A music that couldn’t miss in the perfect playlist:

Beck’s ‘Sea Change’ album

A guilty pleasure:

Wine or Whisky


square_90 days90 Days of Yoga is a follow-on course for people who have already done my 30 Days of Yoga course. It is not an advanced course, instead it’s intended to deepen your yoga practice by exploring more of the philosophy of yoga, and practices of pranayama (breathing) and meditation. This course is also an excellent way to sustain and extend the home practice you established during 30 Days of Yoga, by introducing a wider range of practices to choose from.

Want to take 90 Days of Yoga but haven’t done 30 Days of Yoga? If you are familiar with the basics of yoga, and confident with basic online technology (downloading files etc) then I’m happy to make an exception for you, since this is the last time we’ll be offering 90 Days of Yoga. If you want to check that you’ll be comfortable and confident in the course, feel free to email us your questions on



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One Response to "Yoga Straight Talk with Petra Gimbad"

  1. Sara says:

    I love this series – and I love keeping it real yoga 🙂 In developing my own home practice over the years, I too have found that this idea of the ‘perfect’ home practice is very restrictive. I guess it’s the ego’s way of shutting us down – same as the internal critic that stops our creativity. The perfect yoga practice is whatever is right for us on the day.

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